Archive for the ‘Pearls & Beads’ Category

Are we having fun yet?

I sure am!  There is a lot going on at the moment and all of it is fun!  I have eleven new sewers going through my classes at the YWCA with the majority being very keen to learn more and continue on.  Tomorrow is the final session of Basics I where the ladies will get to make their first project which is a simple shoulder bag.   Basics II starts later in October and I think nearly everyone has already signed up for those classes.

I’m getting ready for the Helena May Bazaar on Thursday, 14 October which is held from 9am to 6pm.  This is a photo I took of a few pieces that I’ll have available.   I’m showcasing my pearl jewellery this year.At the bazaar, I will be launching my Pearl Party concept.   A Pearl Party is perfect for anyone who is looking for a fun activity to do with friends or a theme for a gathering (bridal shower, going away party, birthday).  I will bring in a selection of pearls and have all the supplies.  After preparing the difficult or fiddly aspects of making a pearl necklace, I’ll instruct and lead the group.  At the end of a leisurely 3 hours, everyone will have a completed necklace to show.  The Pearl Parties I have done in the past have been a huge success and provide wonderful memories for all who attended.

A few weeks ago, I had a photo of this embroidery which I completed for a book.  Well, here is the finished book!   I had so much fun doing this book that it has inspired me to do more.  Unfortunately, the beginning bookmaking course runs for 5 consecutive Mondays and I do not have 5 consecutive Mondays available for the remainder of this year!  I will have to book this into my schedule come the new year.  I really am pleased with the brass butterfly hardware catch that I used as a closure on the book.  I highly recommend this to anyone who is remotely interested in picking up a new hobby.  Go to www.bookworks.com.hk for more information.

Later this week I am going to be leading a sewers tour of Sham Shui Po.  I have put together a map of my favorite places for fabrics, buttons, ribbons, zippers, buckles, … ; all those things you need for sewing.  I am always on the lookout for amazing fabric so while wandering through the Hawkers Bazaar I spotted this cotton face/satin back hunter green and black jacquard fabric.  It is absolutely beautiful and will make a great jacket.  I asked the cost and it was HK$40/yd.  I started looking at it and noticed that about every yard there was a scorch mark across the full width (you can see them in this photo) which probably happened in the factory during finishing.  I pointed this out to the vendor and asked for a lower cost.  After a frown and huge sigh, she grabbed her calculator and typed in HK$30/yd.  “Hmmm” I said, “Lots of damage, see, here and here…”.  I spent a bit more time looking at the fabric like I was really interested and then picked up her calculator and tapped in HK$25/yd.  “Ay ya”, she said which translates roughtly to “Are you serious?”.  After a bit more to’ing and fro’ing, we finally agreed on my last price for 4 yards.  I come from a long line of bargainers and I could feel my Dad smiling down upon me for getting this fabric for this low of a cost.  I thanked her profusely and walked away feeling very, very pleased.  I’ll have to do some creative cutting and pick a jacket style that has a lot of cut and sew lines to ensure that the pattern pieces are small enough to fit between the damage, but to get this type of fabric for HK$25/yard where it would easily cost that much in US$  in a fabric store in the States, I can handle doing a bit of extra work.

Here is another find from this past week.  This headband is made using Chinese knots in a very creative way.  The hard plastic band is covered with a flat knot (or square knot for your macrame’ers) where the band is used instead of a base cord.  As an asymetrical accent, two pan chang knots are joined with what looks like a brocade knot on top that is shaped to look like a butterfly.  Very ingenious. 

And finally for today’s post, if anyone is interested in a holiday to the Top of the South Island in New Zealand, some friends of mine have a wonderful boutique apartment accommodation.  Ron & Fiona Oliver are very lovely people and will no doubt treat any guests like family.  Their house is built on the Kina Peninsula very near to the town of Motueka.  Their website is definitely worth a look, www.almyra.co.nz

This week I’ll be teaching 3 classes on Monday, and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings.   Mixed in there will be  some pearl knotting and jewellery making, some sewing and, hopefully, a bit of stitching.  Unfortunately, stitching has taken a back seat at the moment primarily because Nikki is out of town and I do not have my regular Thursday afternoon sessions to go to. 

Have a great week everyone and those of you in Hong Kong, enjoy this beautiful Autumn weather we are having!

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When It’s Meant to Be

I have always believed that if I am doing what I am meant to do and remain in a positive frame of mind about it, all things will align and amazing things will happen.  Case in point this past week…  Friday I had a meeting with a local Image Consultant in HK who is very well respected.  Eve Roth Lindsay of Savvy Style works with individuals and corporations.  I met Eve about 6 months ago and we have stayed in contact.  On a whim a few weeks ago, I sent her an e-mail explaining that I was venturing into the jewellery business and was wondering if there was any common ground between what we both do.  Eve invited me in to have a chat and show off my designs.  She liked everything she saw and asked me to provide some pieces on a commission basis.  What Eve does is present an entire image package for an individual from color to style to accessories.  She has other designers who provide jewellery for her to use in presentations and has been looking for someone to fill in with pearls.  Fortunately I had time this past weekend and pulled together about a dozen pearl necklaces in various colors, designs and lengths.  I will be delivering them to her this morning.  I am very excited about the opportunity that Eve has presented to me and hope for good things to come!

I finished another stitching project that I’ve been working on for about a month.  This butterfly and dragonfly design will be used as a book cover that I will be completing in September.  The butterfly on the far right of the design is a brass box latch that I found at a local hardware store.  I am going to stitch the upper body onto the front cover of the book and then create a strap for the lower body to attach to the back of the book.  I’ll put the finished book in the blog when its completed.  I am so enjoying stitching that I can sit down and loose hours in it. 

These are two necklaces I finished this past week.  This is one of those designs that is born from the clasp. I found these 3 cup clasps and thought they would be perfect for adding a tassel at the front.  The tassel can be removed.  I am going to see if I can buy extra cups so I can make different colored tassels for a multitude of looks.  This photo is also on the Gallery page, but just had to show it here too.

And what would a blog post be without at least one photo of the “kids”.  This is the most sought-after position in the flat on a sunny day.  Simon, Jackie and Thomas are all enjoying the luxury of a sunny location and a great view.  Ahh, a cats’ life!

Check out the Gallery page for What’s New.

I am away today to NZ for a few weeks.  Going to have a bit of a break, pull some weeds, prune some trees and probably chop some firewood.  All those things that are nearly impossible here in HK.   So next you hear from me, I will be at the bottom of the world in the middle of winter.

A New Hobby

With so many wonderful art and crafts out there to do, how can anyone avoid them…particularly me!  This spring, I started taking classes with a friend who teaches stitching (embroidery) here in Hong Kong.  Nikki’s website, with her mother, is www.les-designs.com    I learned to embroider when I was very young being taught by my Mother and Grandmother (they also tried crochet but that did not stick).   What I am re-learning now with Nikki is light years away from what I learned then.  All of the stitches are 3-dimensional and literally jump off the fabric.  I just love the unique and wonderful ways to use thread, yarn and even silk ribbon to create beautiful designs.  These are my first two pieces so don’t look too close!  They are a series of 4 that I am going to complete and then patchwork them into a pillow cover. 

And this new hobby has lead me to another form of stitching called “Sashiko” which means “little stabs” in Japanese.  I have had this jacket for years and have always wanted to learn how to do this.  By chance, a friend showed me a book that she picked up and there it was!  Although it looks simple, the designs are complex, geometric patterns which need to be stitched in a very strict directional manner.  This past week I made up a very simple linen slip dress and intend on putting a Sashiko design at the hem and around the neckline.  

One can never have too many hobbies…it’s the time thing that gets in the way!

In April this year, I lead a group of women who are learning to sew with me in making their own dressmaking body forms.  A friend in the USA had made one of these and told me about the process.  The forms are made with paper packing tape and are wrapped right onto the body.  These forms are an exact duplication of your size and shape.  I use mine all the time now.  Even though I have a very willing husband who will pin me into a fit garment at any time, it did slow down my sewing because I had to wait for him to be available to help me.  One woman saw my form and instantly wanted to make one, not for sewing, but to have as a sculpture.  These forms can easily be covered with a thin layer of plaster and smoothed.  I am going to build a stand for mine because it is hard to fit full length dresses with the form having to sit on the table.  I’ll be teaching this class again later in the year.

Could not resist putting this photo into the blog this week.  We grow oats for the cats to graze on.  This is a new crop that was put out a few days ago.  The boys from NZ, being originally outside cats, absolutely love grazing.  Porsche is a city gal so she just stands back and looks at the boys like they are crazy.  For her, if it does not come out of a can or a package, it can’t possibly be good for you; and, it’s green!  And Felix, well, he likes to sleep on the grass. 

Have a look at the Gallery page.  I’ve put a few new things at the bottom under the What’s New heading.

All for this week.  Take care everyone and will be back soon!

Some things must move farther down the list

And that has been my blog for the first half of this year.   Other things have been in the spotlight.  Let me briefly catch you up on what I have been spending my time on.  I have been teaching 3-4 days a week for the better part of the past 6 months.  And to keep up with all of these classes, I have been spending a fair bit of time creating and coming up with new ideas.  Shortly after the first of the year, David decided to open his own office here and I stepped in as designer/architect/contract manager/decorator.  He has no end of clients commenting on the beautiful, calming environment.  I have been concentrating on growing the jewelry part of my business (more on this later).  And I have been in discussions to consult on developing a training curriculum for factory sewers overseas. 

But first…  We have another new member of the family.  Let me introduce you to Felix.  He is an orphaned Hong Kong street kitty who came to us shortly after Chinese New Year.   He was very malnourished and had a bad case of cat flu.  We nursed him back to health and he has made a very welcome addition to our family.  His adorable factor is off the charts.  He never ceases to amuse with his antics. 

You will notice a couple new pages on my blog.  I am going to start teaching jewelry lessons in September 2010 and will work with others on home shows and parties.  I have been getting a lot of positive comments from what I make and decided this was a natural fit with the other arts that I do. So have a look at the Jewelry Lessons page to see what will be upcoming.  Also browse the Gallery page.

I have updated the Knot Lessons and Sewing Lessons page with upcoming classes for the second half of the year.   Dates are yet to be determined for the private classses and will be posted by early September.

A wee thanks to all of you for your continued support.  Since there is a lot to look at, I won’t make this post too long. 

Everyone take care and enjoy the remainder of the summer!

Angels for the New Year

I am well and truly back into the swing now.  My classes have all started and, as usual, I am having a blast sharing what I know with others who are interested in learning.

Last Thursday, I had a group of 7 women at the YWCA for the Chinese Knot Basics class.  We went through the first 5 introductory knots, did our take-home project, had time for a tea break (which is a huge giggle for all my students because I get so wrapped up in what I’m doing, I forget to let everyone up to stretch their legs!), and finished on time!  Every one of the women receive a huge “atta girl!” for catching on to the knots so quickly.  I always give an extra-credit knot to try at home and I am fully expecting to have everyone tell me on Thursday that they did it with no trouble.

I made this gaggle of wee Chinese Knot angels as New Years gifts for family and friends.  Now that they are all made, they will be winging their way around the world very soon to bring best wishes and, no doubt, a smile to the face. 

This will most likely be the Christmas project class that I teach at the YWCA this Autumn.  Everyone who sees these precious creatures wants to make them.

My last term sewing students and I started up our sewing group.  We met Tuesday morning this past week to start on our next project.  Everyone is making a dress.  Last week, we all got our muslin fabric cut out for a fit garment and this week will be doing fit trials and pattern modifications.  We also took a quick trip to Sham Shui Po last week so I could point out a few fabric shops.  Talk about the addictive nature of fabric…I think everyone got back on the train with at least one piece of fabric for our current and future projects.  Yes, that includes me.  What can I say, there are worse things to be addicted to!

Sewing Basics at the YWCA also starts up this week for a new group of people interested in learning all about sewing machines, seams and basic construction techniques. 

I had made this design up in white rice shaped pearls for myself ages ago with the metal beads and leather braided cord.  I was playing around before Christmas with my pearls and found these huge green/blue rice pearls; they are about 13mm long.  I started thinking, “Why do pearls have to be just for girls?”.  So, I strung these up for David as a Christmas gift.  He absolutely loves them.  He had this necklace on one day and a couple of our male friends saw it and asked for me to make them a necklace too.  I think it is great that men get to enjoy the specialness of pearls.  So when I go pearl shopping, I keep my eyes open for others that would be suitable for the men in my life.

All from me for this week.  Enjoy your week everyone and may it be filled with fun!

Happy New Year!

I’m rested, recharged and ready to get back at it!  As you can tell, I’ve taken a bit of time off and have really enjoyed allowing my creativity to flow freely again without the full diary of appointments and lessons.  There is a bit to catch you up on so I’ll start where I left off.

The fair in New Zealand was fantastic.  We could not have asked for a nicer day.  The event was held at a local winery which has a beautiful yard around the house.  We were positioned on the tennis courts with other craft type stalls.  This fair features all local artisans and crafts.  The rough headcount for the day was upwards of 3000 people; I think nearly all of them stopped by our table!  Kiwi’s are very inquisitive and friendly people.  Nearly everyone approached the table wanting to know all about our wares.  I was very happy with our sales for the day.  And I was even more pleased with my sales the following week!  As our friends came around the house to visit and catch up, everyone wanted to know what I was doing to keep myself busy.  What better way than to do a bit of show-and-tell.  I generated more sales by just talking about what I was doing without even trying to sell anything.  So many women said that they knew people who would love what I do so when we are back in New Zealand for Chinese New Year, I am going to have a few friends organize “home” parties with their friends and family. 

I made a lot of Christmas presents again this year.  Seems like table runners were the theme.  I went to Shenzhen and picked up a lot of beautiful Chinese brocade fabric to use in my table runner and pillow cover class at the YWCA in December and a bit extra for gifts.  The green runner was a gift for a good friend, the red one was on my table over the holidays and the white/gold runner will be sent to a friend for her birthday.

I also made a scarf for another friend (which, I understand, can double as a table runner).  I found some beautiful crinkle silk and had fun piecing it together, adding fabric and bead fringe and other decoration.

A wee moment of silence for the closing of our local Spotlight store.  It was truly a one-stop shop for all sewing related items.  The final weeks were chaotic as the sales got better and better.  One weekend two friends make a trip out there (I think I’m glad I did not go) and relayed that all packaged items were HK$1 each and the queues were over an hour long to get to the cashier.  I tried to keep my visit to mid-week.  I did not get the selection; however, I found enough good things to keep me going for quite a long time.  I am now the local Hong Kong dressmaking pattern outlet.  I was fortunate enough to get to go through the pattern drawers and pick out the patterns I wanted before they went on the sale table for the masses at $1 each.   I won’t divulge exactly how many patterns I walked away with; let it suffice to say that I could use one of those large, 4 drawer pattern file cabinets! 

A bit of house keeping items for you all…I’ve updated the Knot and Sewing pages with dates for upcoming classes.  Private Knotting classes will be advised after my first YWCA class concludes at the end of this month.  My Y sewing students from last term are getting back together and we are having a weekly sewing group meeting here at the flat to continue building our skills and techniques.  Anyone with basic sewing knowledge and your own sewing machine is welcome to join.  Future meeting of Baubles & Knots will be determined shortly and will be posted. 

And with that, I’m going to venture out in the rain to do a few errands.  It’s good to be back to my blog and back to work.  And my wish to all for the new year is that happy surprises and pleasant adventures come your way.

Until next week…

Ahhh, to be humbled

Apologies for the delay in this weeks post…I’ve just been way busy teaching.  I’m having an absolute blast with this.  The sewing classes are just amazing.  I have been sewing for decades and never thought about sharing the knowledge I have.  I am finding so many women out there (and one man!) who are  eager for the information and chance to sit behind a sewing machine and see what it is all about.  This terms knotting classes are also going really well.   I’m challenging the women with some pretty complicated knots and we are moving through quite a few in each session and they are all doing fantastic!

Well, I had a humbling sewing episode this past week hence the name of this weeks post.  I  found some cute lavendar/brown/white print cotton and had a length of it in my fabric bin.  Last Sunday, I had a bit of free time on my hands and decided to “whip something up” to wear to my sewing class on DSCN0547Monday.  This fabric matched perfectly with a pattern I have for a very simple skirt with a flare from the knee to hem.  Operative word here is “simple”…so much so that I did not even unfold the instructions.  Just cut the fabric and got right into it.  After the zip was set, I did a fit trial and adjusted a few seams.  I then finished off the waist, turned  the hem and did a final pressing.  To further admire the excellent job I had done, I went in the dressing room to try the skirt on and it nearly slipped down over my hips!  Horror of horrors…what had I done!!!  It fit perfectly before the waist facing and then…ahhh!  Now I got out the instructions and located the waist section and it said “To ensure that the wasit does not stretch, add seam tape…”.  Right…  Because of the way the pattern was laid up on the fabric, the waist area is on a bit of a bias and does have quite a bit of stretch.  So, now it is out with the seam ripper to remove the top stitching, waist facing, and zipper.  I need to overlock the waist seam to secure the raw edge so I can then give the skirt another soak and tumble in the dryer to take the stretch back out of the fabric, another fit and THEN the use of seam tape when I reapply the waist facing. 

I was just a wee bit too sure of myself when doing this skirt.  I hardly even had my mind on what I was doing because it was so simple.  This is exactly the time when you make mistakes…like I did.  So, for all of you new sewers out there, have a wee chuckle over my “blond moment” and learn from my mistake so you do not have to make one of your own.  It is always a good idea to be completely connected to what you are doing regardless of how simple your project is.  It is the attention to detail that gives you a garment that you will be proud of…and does not take twice as long to finish as it should!!!

I have friends visiting HK this week from New Zealand.  They knew that I was teaching but I guess that I neglected to tell them exactly what I was DSCN0548teaching.  When they found out it was Chinese Knotting, they said  they have been reading about how important knotting is to the Chinese culture and the history that it has. They went on to say how amazing they thought it was that I actually learned this art and was able to teach it to others.  Wow, talk about feeling a bit proud.   I am having dinner with them tonight so thought I would knot something up for them to take home as a rememberence of their trip here and Chinese knotting. 

I dipped into my pearl bin again last week.  It seems that it is calling me more frequently as of late.  I knotted up a beautiful string of pearls that David got me at the jewelry show in June.  I simply put flattened gold spacers between the pearls.  It looks beautiful…he will be pleased!

I  have a few gifts to make for some very special women I know.   I had intended to string pearls  for them.  When I got everything out, I stopped because these women are fairly down to earth ladies and I thought they would think a string of solid pearls would be “far too good and fancy” to wear.  Can’t have that because as our Pearl Lady says, “Pearls have to be worn and see the light of day”.  Use in Blog I started playing around with different ideas and came up with this design.  It has a center knot.  You see, to justify spending time with my pearls, if I can work a knot into them somewhere, then it makes it okay!!  I thought this design is much more approachable and wearable…perfect for the women that I will be making these for. 

Just a few things to remember…

Monday, 5 October, Baubles & Knots gathering

Monday, 12 October, Knotting continuation course – Pan Changs

Thursday, 15 October, Helena May Bazaar

Monday, 19 October, Knotting continuation course – Double Coin Variations

Thursday, 22 October, Knotting Project course – Belts

Have a wonderful holiday weekend everyone!